Written by John Mattingly and Andrew Eitler
We awoke to the sound of bells ringing on the hour, every hour, and three minutes past the hour every hour, as well as every half hour. After an action packed weekend, we woke up to our first formal meeting with Todd. During the lecture, he went over the itinerary for the rest of the trip and he got right into a presentation about civic institutions in the European Union (EU). After lunch we had a group discussion on sustainability and the problems it poses in Europe, which led into a brief discussion about our second research topics comparing policy in the United States and the EU. Once presented the true work on our papers began, however, some of us felt the need for a little down time at the lake one last time before we left Riva. After sunbathing, swimming and kayaking, followed by gelato, we rejoined our classmates at the villa to continue our work. With a short break for dinner, most of the night was spent on finishing our papers and preparing our presentations for the following morning. Tomorrow was going to be a busy day for us all.
After a quick breakfast, presentations began. Since each student pursued a unique research topic specific to their interests, the presentations were very informative and engaging, covering a broad array of topics. Due to well-prepared presentations followed by insightful questions from the class, presentations spilled into our lunchtime, and had to be resumed in the afternoon. During lunch, a growing panic about a suspected supernatural entity (a ghost! Hah!) afoot in the villa reached a fever pitch. Speculation about the identity of the visitor was rampant; could this specter be malicious or a harmless trickster? After lunch, Todd quickly calmed our racing minds with calculated reason. Once the remaining presentations were concluded, Todd introduced the focus of the rest of the course: Wicked Sustainability. Wicked problems are those that are complex and multi-faceted with no clear solution. We will soon discuss an example in Venice about the MOSE project. With this introduction we discussed and refined our final research topics. Having received helpful feedback on our presentations, those of us who had not yet completed the essay chose to make some final adjustments before submission. Those who had finished went about doing laundry, packing, and any other last minute errands before our early morning departure towards Venice on Wednesday. With preparation the next day completed, we went about answering perhaps the most challenging question of the study abroad thus far; how to spend our last day in Riva San Vitale. Some took one last visit to Lugano, some relaxed in the lounge watching the Euro Cup soccer tournament or The Bachelorette. Dinner came and went and the last thing on the agenda was to get caught up with the most recent episode of Game of Thrones. Due to frustrating technical difficulties and a potential encounter with our friendly apparition, this proved to be much more difficult than we had anticipated, with some audience members unable to stay up to the end. Following this final challenge, it was time for us all to head to bed for some much needed rest before embarking on a journey to the worldly city of Venice, Italy for our next European adventure.